Wonder, Magic & Joy

Wonder, Magic & Joy

There’s a question I’ve been pondering the last week or two. It’s one I’ve asked several times, one that’s been asked of me multiple times.

“Are you ready for Christmas?”

This question usually means, are you ready for December 25th? Do you have your gifts bought and your menu planned?

I get that.

But this question has made me think that we’ve {I’ve} relegated Christmas to just one day and that makes me sad.

When I relegate Christmas to just one day, I stress about the planning and “getting things done” instead of enjoying the entire process as “Christmastime”.

Christmas is about the preparation, the decorating, the cookie baking… not just having those things done before December 25th.

So in these last hours before December 25th, let’s commit to enjoying the journey. Let’s remember that Christmas isn’t just one day but a season of special preparations, generosity, wonder, magic and joy!

Write 31 Days – Day 26: Long Days

Write 31 Days – Day 26: Long Days

“The days are long but the years are short.”

~unknown~

I don’t know who originally said this but nothing could apply to parenthood as accurately as this.

If you have only littles, you may not have realized it yet. You may only identity with “the days are long”, but I guarantee you, it will be very soon that you also see that “the years are short”.

To go with this quote, I love this meme (from Dr. Dobson) I just was reminded of today…

emptynest-meme

 

Enjoy the moment, mama and daddy, it passes ever so quickly.

new dani whimsy

This is Day 26 of my “31 Days of not-so-famous Quotes” – part of the #write31days challenge. To read all about this 31 day venture, please visit the overview page HERE.

 

Write 31 Days – Day 3: A Night Owl

Write 31 Days – Day 3: A Night Owl

“I’m a night owl and a morning bear.” ~Lucas Gifford~

Gah! No quote describes me as perfectly. If you are a night owl too, you might identify with being a morning bear.

(Lucas Gifford and his wife, Christa, have an amazing podcast called “Head to Heart”

new dani whimsy

This is Day 3 of my “31 Days of not-so-famous Quotes” – part of the #write31days challenge. To read this series in order, go to the overview page, HERE.

Malachi’s Feetprints: A Vulnerable Look at the Pain of Miscarriage

Malachi’s Feetprints: A Vulnerable Look at the Pain of Miscarriage

(Long post of a heartbreaking story. It’s a short version of a book that will come sometime in the future. With hopes of bringing a bit of comfort and a bit of “I’ve been there before too” to the many women out there who have lived this same story but have had no one to process with and have not yet found healing for their broken hearts.)

I’m one of the many, many women who has experienced miscarriage. For me, I’ve experienced the loss of a baby from my womb, twice. My first miscarriage happened nearly 15 years ago when I was barely nine weeks along.

My second born was less than a year old at that time and I was a bit surprised I was already pregnant again. Because of that surprise, at nine weeks, I hadn’t really bonded with the pregnancy yet. And because of that, though the loss was painful, it didn’t grip me and impact me in the same way my second miscarriage did.

Yesterday was the one-year mark of delivering my second son’s lifeless body. We had gotten the news, via ultrasound, five days earlier that I was carrying a tiny body that had quit developing weeks before, with no sign of life.

The impact of that news dazed our entire family. We had taken all four of our daughters with us to the ultrasound, so we lived that fateful moment together. Looking back, I wouldn’t have wanted it any different.

But I have to back up to tell the story of Malachi’s feetprints…

Our first three daughters are stair stepped at 2 1/2 years between each. So when we found out we were pregnant with our fourth daughter, nearly nine years later, we were shocked and then got the best surprise ever with our Journey Joy. Having her so far down the line, sent us into a conversation whether we should have another for her to grow up with. That conversation went back and forth for a couple years.

It wasn’t until about the summer of 2014 that I begin to have an intense desire for another baby – but not just another baby – a son. I love my daughters and our girly world but my heart began aching for a son.

Months went by. My husband didn’t have the same urgency to add another little to our crazy home and lifestyle, and though we weren’t using any sort of birth control, I also wasn’t getting pregnant.

I would tell myself it was a ridiculous desire. We were so good with just our four girls. I had never had a desire to have a son in the past so I tried to ignore the yearning in my heart.

Finally in January 2015, I sat before the Lord on the front row of my church, having a moment with Jesus. I told Him that, if this desire wasn’t from Him, He needed to take it from me. I told Him I didn’t want to feel this way, especially since my husband wasn’t necessarily on the same page as me.

And then…

The Lord began to speak to me about how He doesn’t do things to tease us. He is not a God that shows us something good, giving us a desire for something, only to withhold it from us. His voice is so tender and loving. So, I came to terms that this was from Him and I was going to continue to ask. Little did I know that I was actually pregnant at that time!

Usually when a woman is pregnant, every one has an opinion on what gender the baby is. This pregnancy was no different. The unusual thing about this pregnancy, is that in 20 weeks, I came across only ONE person who thought I was carrying a girl. Everyone – family, friends, strangers – all thought it was a boy.

Though we had to wait until 20 weeks to get the ultrasound confirmation, we all knew I was carrying my promised son.

I don’t think I’ve ever had so many people pray over my womb, so many prophetic words spoken over this little one – all in those 20 weeks. This unborn child was destined for greatness and impacting the nations.

When we went in that day for the 20-week ultrasound, there was so much anticipation with everyone who knew we were going. But then…

I had to write the most painful Facebook post of my life, telling our friends and family the devastating news.

The prayer support that came rushing in from friends, literally, all over the world was beautiful. I know the grace that undergirded us during this season was due to those prayers.

Over the next five days, I lived through the most heart-wrenching pain I’ve ever felt. We believe in miracles and, at times, a wave of hope, would come and we would pray for a raising of the dead. Then, the reality of what was happening would grip my breaking heart again, and I would grieve my loss.

I remember waking up every morning, thinking, “OK. I can do this. I feel better today.” But by the time I made it to the couch with my cup of coffee, I was sobbing, telling my husband, “I can’t do this. I can’t do this.”

The best advice I received was from my spiritual mama, “Make sure you cry enough.” I believe I accomplished this.

When we went to the hospital 5 days later to induce labor to deliver our baby’s empty body, I had cried buckets of tears, yelled at the devil, soaked up comfort and love from my Faithful Jesus and bonded in a special way with my family. And with the friends who checked on me daily.

That day of delivering that tiny body went as well as it could have, medically speaking. When the doctor said with confidence, “It’s a boy”, I knew the promise the Lord had given me less than 20 weeks earlier, was fulfilled.

The nurse asked me if I wanted professional photos done. And if I wanted his footprints taken. I said no to both. But when she later brought me a birth certificate with his tiny little feetprints, I was so grateful she didn’t listen to me.

Those little feetprints, Malachi’s feetprints, have been a beautiful and whimsical remembrance of our son. The little boy who’s body never took a breath on this side of heaven, but who’s tiny feet and life have made imprints on his family and on people all over the world.

new dani whimsy

 

Summertime Freedom and Flexibility

Summertime Freedom and Flexibility

By nature, I’m a structured, organized person but over the last 8 years, as we’ve been traveling, I’ve swung to the other end of the spectrum. We had a traveling schedule but having a daily schedule or even a bedtime schedule for our family just could not happen.

We learned to become the type of family that thrives on freedom and flexibility. So, when we made the decision to put two of our four kiddos in public school this past year, we definitely weighed the sacrifice of our choice before making it. In the end, we knew it was the right thing and it has really been a great year for us!

Now that our traveling looks a little different and our kiddos have transitioned to public school life, the organized and structured me has started to return. Trying not to obsess with scheduling every minute of my day but, at the same time, bringing some sort of structure back into our lives. Ah, the tension of a well-lived life.

And now summer…

Summer vacation is, well, usually anything but a vacation in most households. Though, we haven’t filled up our summer with sports camps or summer jobs, we will be spending a lot of time on the road this year. Our family will be away from home, 33+ out of 60 days of the brief summer reprieve. Eek!

And, as much I love that we have the flexibility to do this, the re-emerging organizational part of me is freaking a little. It’s freaking because it knows, it will only be a blink and a half before it’s “Back to School” again. How much do I want to lean into freedom when I know structure will be needed again soon? Maybe you’re a bit like me.

So parents, for my household and yours, how do we be wise with our cherished summer break?

Enjoy the moment of freedom and flexibility. And use structure and organization to do that.

13 weeks, guys. The fact is, the summer season will pass in thirteen short weeks and we will all be back into the hustle and bustle of the upcoming school year. So, even if your summer is looking jam-packed with summer camps, traveling or summer jobs, be intentional about enjoying the season with your family.

Take advantage of the long summer days and plan for a few picnics, some trips to the park, a movie date with your teen. Go get ice-cream once a week. In fact, ask your kids right here at the start of summer break what they would like to see happen with your family this summer. I’m sure most teens will answer that they’ll want to sleep! But press them a little and see what fun things they’d enjoy doing and create a plan to make it happen!

Structure and organization can be our friend or our enemy. Freedom and flexibility have the same potential. Let’s use some organization to be intentional about using this summer’s freedom and flexibility for connecting with our kids and enjoying the moment!

new dani whimsy

 


Mean Mom

Mean Mom

There seems to be a thing out there that being a ‘mean mom’ is equivalent to being a ‘good mom’. A mean mom says ‘no’. A mean mom won’t give her kid a piece of candy. A mean mom won’t buy that toy. There’s high-fives all around with moms on this one and I don’t get it.

If we set boundaries that make our kids unhappy, we justify it and flaunt it with a #meanmom hashtag. It’s a bit of a “I’m an adult, you’re the kid, so deal with it.” status. If you’re familiar with Danny Silk’s teachings, it’s the “red truck, yellow truck” syndrome. “Only one person can be powerful and it sure the heck isn’t you, kid!” (Yet, many of us will never set boundaries in friendships because we don’t want others to think less of us. But that’s a different story.)

We wouldn’t gloat in being a ‘mean wife’, a ‘mean neighbor’ or a ‘mean friend’. So why do we think being a ‘mean mom’ is something to cheer about? Why do we think that treating our kids, in a way we would never treat another adult, is something to be celebrated?

The definition of ‘mean’ is: offensive; selfish; unaccommodating; small minded; stingy; miserly; inferior in grade, quality, or character….

Should I continue?

All of those words are gross. I don’t think any mama (or daddy) honestly would ever want to identify with them. So why do we?

With our kids, when we set boundaries or make decisions and then advocate them by saying, “Yeah, well, I’m just a mean mom.”, we are setting a precedent for less than stellar relationship with our kids and, even worse, creating a very wrong mindset of who God is for them. As Believers, we know God is our Father, what you may not realize is that our kiddos are making up their mind as to what kind of Father He is by who YOU are to them.

Do I make decisions and set boundaries for my kids that they sometimes don’t understand and, bluntly, sometimes straight piss them off? Yes. Do I do this because I’m a mean mom? No. Never.

Just as I am always striving to be the best me I can be, in my marriage, in my friendships, with co-workers… I am striving to be the best me I can be, as a parent. And mean is something I never want to be. Mean is something that is not the best me.

Some antonyms for ‘mean’ are:

kind

generous

compassionate

nice

polite

unselfish.

Those words describe the kind of person I want to be. The kind of mom I want to be. And definitely the kind of Father that our God IS and that I want to represent to my kids.

new dani whimsy

 

Graduation: A Changing of the Seasons

Graduation: A Changing of the Seasons

I’m taking the liberty of swapping subjects between today and Friday… Today will be “Family, Coffee and Fun” and Friday will be “Ministry, Jesus, and the Word”. Enjoy! 🙂 

The days are long but the years are short.

This quote has been resonating with me the last couple days. If you’re not in the right moment, the words seem mushy and trite. But, for me, as I am starting to feel the gravity of my firstborn graduating high school and getting ready to move across the country, these words ring so true.

This weekend we filled our home with 100+ friends and family congratulating our daughter on her completion of high school and wishing her well as she will head off to ministry school soon. The celebration marks a changing of the seasons… which is wonderful and exciting and a bit brutal on a mama’s heart. But I’ll try not to cry too much… (Read all about that in THIS post)


I don’t feel like I was a great mom when my first three were littles. Though my dreams came true when I got married and had my first babies, I was selfish and a bit resentful towards my husband. I was a martyr and, like most young mamas, lonely in my mothering. I hate that I said, “hurry up” way too much that I didn’t get down and play house enough. I didn’t cultivate the safe place that I so desire to be now. But experience and time and a little (no, a lot of) wisdom from friends who were a season or two ahead of me, helped me grow in my mothering and I’m grateful to say a lot of has changed.

 
But life is too way too short to sit around wishing you coulda, woulda done things differently. Seriously. While looking through old pics that we had displayed this weekend, I can’t believe how the years seriously passed so. dang. fast. As I look ahead, the next five will be gone in a blink as well. See, in three years we’ll do this whole graduation party thing again, and then again in another two years after that. Five years. In five short years, we’ll most likely be down to just three of us living in our home. (Praise Him for that surprise baby 9 years later… prolonging that ’empty nest’)

sisters stroda littles

Yes, indeed the years have been short. And yet, I remember the season, when my first three were age 5 and under and I couldn’t see the end of that physically exhausting, yet rewarding part of our parenting journey. The days were long, sometimes the nights were longer but now I can clearly see that the years were so, so short.


So, as I process and celebrate and yes, even grieve a little in this moment, I give a hearty “Amen!” to the beautiful friend who told me recently, “I’d do it all over again. All the mistakes, everything…” Because those long days turned into short years and, though I’m thrilled for the season ahead, I’m still missing those long days just a little.

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My Promise to My Children : Revisited

My Promise to My Children : Revisited

If you missed the announcement on Tuesday, I’m taking the week off from writing new material – click HERE to read why (it’s a really important reason!).

Enjoy this article that originally ran September 13, 2013!


“My promise to my children. I am not your friend. I am your mom. I will stalk you, flip out on you, lecture you, drive you insane, be your worst nightmare & hunt you down like a bloodhound when needed because I LOVE YOU! When you understand that, I will know you are a responsible adult. You will NEVER find someone who loves, prays, cares and worries about you more than I do! Re-post if you are a parent and agree.”

This quote has gone around Facebook a time or two and I. hate. it. No worries, if you were one that shared it because you saw some element of truth in it, we can still be friends. But this will never be the way I parent my kids. It’s not my heart. I don’t think love and fear can exist in the same moment and this, my friends, is FULL of fear. So, I’ve taken the opportunity to use this quote as a springboard and write my own promise to my own girls. While my heart echos this apostle’s words …

“The greatest joy in my life is hearing how my children are walking in truth.” 

~ I AM your friend AND your mom. I pray that we can always trust each other’s hearts and share openly about everything – our mistakes, our pains, our accomplishments, our blessings. I have wisdom you do not have because I’ve been at this a little longer than you. You have insight that I don’t have because you see things differently than me. I pray we can learn from each other and grow together in our friendship for the rest of our lives.

~I can’t (and don’t want to be) with you 24/7 so I won’t stalk you – Holy Spirit will keep His promise and be with you ALWAYS. I will pray that you always have a heart and an ear to hear His voice saying, “This is the way. Walk in it.” And I will celebrate the moments when you could have chosen wrong but chose right… just because you love Him. Not because you were afraid of getting in trouble.

~I probably will flip out on you every once in a while. But I don’t want to. In these moments, please respectfully remind me that’s not who I am. That it’s my heart to keep things honorable between us and letting fear and control be a part of my life doesn’t help either one of us.

~Unfortunately I will probably lecture you at times. I’m sure you will roll your eyes – if you could do it inwardly, that would be great. But if I’m lecturing, it’s because what I’m telling you is very important to me. And I pray it becomes very important to you. I will do my best to make my words empowering and encouraging, not condemning and depressing. Pray for me.

~Because we are two different people with two different personalities, I’m sure we will both get under each other’s skin sometimes. But it is never my heart to intentionally drive you insane. Let’s let grace be the atmosphere in our lives, ok?

~I hope to be a model of who you would like to be in life, not someone you dread. I’m not perfect but I hope to instill in you the Jesus that is in me. And I hope that you someday look back at your life at home with affection. With happy memories of the love and joy.

~If someday, God forbid, you get a little off track and I get scared for you, I pray I can let Jesus rule my heart with His peace. And not let fear and control grip me. I will remind you that you are a powerful person full of the Holy Spirit. I will pray for you and love you where you are at because that’s what Jesus does for us. I will remind you of WHO’s you are and the destiny He has placed in you.

…And THAT, sweet daughters, is the way I will love you!

I Work Ouuuuutttt

I Work Ouuuuutttt

I work out!

In this season, I can say that and not be a liar! I also can say I eat healthy most of the time and not be making stuff up. Praise Him.

For me, and probably most people, doing the physically healthy things we know we should do, are a hit and miss, an ebb and flow. The ever-changing federal ‘recommendations’ don’t help out our fickleness either.

Here’s a couple things that are helping me in this season – with no guarantees I’ll be in the same place a year from now.

Trim Healthy Mama 

My husband and I discovered this way of eating over 2 years ago. When we jumped in at the beginning of 2014, we both lost 15-20 pounds within a few months – I got down to my ‘goal weight’, which was a number I hadn’t seen on the scale for years! Since then though, I’ve gone through a 10k training, a pregnancy, a miscarriage and then my body healing, and I’ll tell you there were many months of the last 18 that I wasn’t ‘on plan’ but in February of this year, my husband and I jumped back in and I’m on that downward trend again. Somebody say “halleluia!” 

More than just the weight loss, I feel healthier, more alive and not like I’m just dragging through life, when I eat the THM way. A big propelling point for us getting back on the THM wagon was their addition of an online membership. You pay a small monthly fee for this but what you gain is HUGE! The biggest selling point for me was the meal planning… I search and click through hundreds of recipes and drag them right into my week planner, then print out my grocery list. People, this is monumental! The hardest part of eating healthy is the planning aspect, because let’s be real, grabbing a bag of potato chips or a box of pop tarts when you’re hangry is so much easier than whipping up something (even though the something may only take 3 minutes).

 

THM Cake for Dinner… yummy!

Just For Ladies Gym

OK, if you don’t live in Kearney, Nebraska, you don’t have access to this option. But let me tell you why I love it and maybe you’ll find something similar near you. I’m not super self-conscience but I love the fact that at my gym, I’m only surrounded by chicks. I just feel more comfortable going at it when I’m not worried about whether I’m sticking my butt in the air too much and I’m a distraction for the guy across the room. JFL is very close to my house – not walking distance but just down the hill a few blocks. Location would be a huge factor for me NOT to go to the gym – that “I don’t have the time to drive clear across town, workout, and then drive back home.” Because, face it, time is a precious commodity in my world – probably in yours too. The location is no excuse, who is going to be at the gym is no excuse and what I can do at my gym is no excuse. JFL has just about everything you could want – the normal treadmills (lots of them), ellipticals, a stair stepper, free weights, weight circuit machines, classes (lots of options), cycling, 2 pools, an area with crossfit type equipment and much more…. I can change it up as much as I would want to. (That doesn’t mean I do, I’ve been going there for nearly 3 months and have done virtually the same workout every time.) I’m getting stronger, pushing more weight and liking the definition my physical body is sculpting.


At just 2 years shy of 40, I’m probably in about the best physical healthful shape I’ve been in for literally decades. I didn’t play sports in high school and have basically been a couch dweller for most of my life. I’m loving my routine now – and always asking for grace to stick with things!

How do you keep on track eating healthfully? Do you have a workout plan or gym membership?

new dani whimsy